2022 Best & Brightest Online MBA: Maria Ilundain, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Maria Ilundain

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

“I am an eager learner, a dedicated team player, and an analytical thinker.”

Age: 26

Hometown: Portland, OR

Fun fact about yourself: My love for travel has been inspired by my upbringing. I was fortunate to experience living in three different countries – Brazil, The Netherlands, and the United States – where I was immersed in various cultures and interacted with others from all walks of life from a young age.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Michigan State University, Supply Chain Management

Where are you currently working? Intel Corporation, Supply Chain Technical Analyst

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of pursuing and completing my MBA in 22 months while excelling in my professional supply chain role, which has become increasingly fast-paced and complex as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic impacts. I am proud that I was able to balance both my professional career and pursuing higher education which had always been a goal of mine since my undergraduate graduation.

Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? I chose ASU’s online MBA program because I felt like the program really set me up for success from the beginning. It was clear to me that the program was designed with working professionals in mind. This ranged from the program pace of taking one course at a time, to having access to career centers and job fairs, to have the opportunity to select from various areas of concentration depending on individual interests and goals.

What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? I loved that online students still have access to many of the opportunities that full time students have. For example, for me, I loved having the opportunity to Study Abroad in Prague, Czech Republic in March 2022 with classmates not only from the online MBA program but also from the full-time and executive MBA programs. This was an unforgettable opportunity to network with other MBA students and faculty in W. P. Carey’s Schools of Business while learning how to do business in a different country.

What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? I was surprised by the degree of interaction with fellow classmates and professors that still occurs in the online learning environment, It helps students feel interconnected and gain similar experiences to being in an in-person learning environment. Each course was designed with interactive elements from online discussion boards to optional live sessions with peers and professors to provide relationship- and team-building opportunities. I also felt there were many opportunities where students could draw from professional working experiences and connect them to course learning which mad the class material even more engaging and transferrable. It was intriguing to learn from the professional experiences of classmates with varying educational backgrounds, different industry experiences, and unique problem-solving approaches to further my personal and professional development.

How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? I really enjoyed the online experience as it allowed me to continue my professional career while advancing my educational learning. I felt that I still had similar, valuable, and challenging experiences in the online program that I obtained from my in-person undergraduate program such as working with team members on case studies, presentations, and projects. The online program felt very interactive to me, despite being online and asynchronous. I also really valued that the online program allowed me to go at my own pace and was more flexible in how I could fit learning into my schedule.

What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program? My best piece of advice is to stay organized, plan ahead, and lean on the support system around you. Don’t forget to plan for rest days to be able to take a break and recharge.

What would you change about an online MBA Program? I would have loved to participate in the in-person orientation at the beginning of the program, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was not possible for my cohort. I think having an in-person orientation at the start of the program and potentially another in-person, cohort-wide meetup at ASU’s campus mid-way through the program would have been valuable to expand relationships with others in the program.

Did you earn a promotion while in the program or immediately after graduation? I earned a title change and pay raise

Did you earn a raise during the online MBA program? Yes

Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 30 hours/week

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term professional goal is to leverage the skills I have obtained from my MBA program to propel my career forward in becoming a well-rounded businesswoman. My goal is to apply the managerial thinking and decision-making, cross-functional teamwork, and business data analytics skills I have developed to become a supply chain leader and mentor to others in my organization.



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